Dormancy in Plants


Dormancy is a strategy of higher plants to survive adverse conditions. Seed dormancy is controlled by a hormone balance of gibberellins and abscisic acid. Physiological and genetic analysis is revealing the interplay between both hormone signalling pathways.

Keywords: seed dormancy; abscisic acid; gibberellins; mutant

Figure 1.

Synchronization of plant metabolic activity and dormancy with the seasons.

Figure 2.

Events occurring in the soil seedbank between seed dispersal and seedling emergence. The transition from the dormant to the nondormant state is reversible and forms the basis of dormancy cycling.

Figure 3.

Vivipary (a) The ABA‐insensitive abi‐3 mutant of Arabidopsis; (b) The ABA‐deficient sitiens mutant of tomato. Arrow indicates germinated seeds while still in the silique.



Ali‐Rachedi S, Bouinot D, Wagner M‐H et al. (2004) Changes in endogenous abscisic acid levels during dormancy release and maintenance of mature seeds: studies with the Cape Verde Islands ecotype, the dormant model of Arabidopsis thaliana. Planta 219: 479–488.

Alonso‐Blanco C, Bentsink L, Hanhart CJ, Blankestijn‐de Vries H and Koornneef M (2003) Analysis of natural allelic variation at dormancy loci of Arabidopsis thaliana. Genetics 164: 711–729.

Baskin CC and Baskin JM (1998) Seeds: Ecology, Biogeography and Evolution of Dormancy and Germination. San Diego: Academic Press.

Cadman CSC, Toorop PE, Hilhorst HWM and Finch‐Savage WE (2006) Gene expression profiles of Arabidopsis Cvi seeds during cycling through dormant and non‐dormant states indicate a common underlying dormancy control mechanism. The Plant Journal 46: 805–822.

Debeaujon I and Koornneef M (2000) Gibberellin requirement for Arabidopsis thaliana seed germination is determined both by testa characteristics and embryonic ABA. Plant Physiology 122: 415–424.

Peeters AJM, Blankestijn‐de Vries H, Hanhart CJ et al. (2002) Characterization of mutants with reduced seed dormancy at two novel rdo loci and a further characterization of rdo1 and rdo2 in Arabidopsis. Physiologia Plantarum 115: 604–612.

Further Reading

Hilhorst HWM (1995) A critical update on seed dormancy. I. Primary dormancy. Seed Science Research 5: 61–73.

Hilhorst HWM, Derkx MPM and Karssen CM (1996) An integrating model for seed dormancy cycling; characterization of reversible sensitivity. Lang G (ed.) Plant Dormancy: Physiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, pp. 341–360. Wallingford, UK: CAB International

Koornneef M, Bentsink L and Hilhorst HWM (2002) Seed dormancy and germination. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 5: 33–36.

Lange MPJ and Lange T (2006) Gibberellin biosynthesis and the regulation of plant development. Plant Biology 8: 281–290.

Morris RO (1997) Hormonal regulation of seed development. In: Larkins BA and Vasil IK (eds) Cellular and Molecular Biology of Plant Seed Development, pp. 117–149. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic

Raz V, Bergervoet JHW and Koornneef M (2001) Sequential steps for developmental arrest in Arabidopsis seeds. Development 128: 243–252.

Yamauchi Y, Ogawa M, Kuwahara A, Hanada A, Kamiya Y et al. (2004) Activation of gibberellin biosynthesis and response pathways by low temperature during imbibition of Arabidopsis thaliana seeds. The Plant Cell 16: 367–378.

Contact Editor close
Submit a note to the editor about this article by filling in the form below.

* Required Field

How to Cite close
Hilhorst, Henk WM, and Koornneef, Maarten(Jan 2007) Dormancy in Plants. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0002045]